"The base" is looking a little shaky. But a new Harris poll released last week shows that GOPers are split in other ways that aren't getting as much attention. It turns out that Republican voters are pretty well split on the environment and global warming. According to the Harris press release, "Republicans are split more or less equally between those who believe we have too much (34%) and too little (36%) regulation. Most Democrats (68%) and half of Independents (51%) believe we have too little regulation." Further bad news for the GOP is that 25% hold the baby bear position, that government regulation is "just right." It's one thing to straddle an issue, it's another to hold three positions at once. Republican candidates are finding themselves forced to take positions on the issue. The International Herald Tribune reported last month:
While many conservative commentators and editorialists have mocked concerns about climate change, a different reality is emerging among Republican presidential contenders. It is a near-unanimous recognition among the leaders of the threat posed by global warming.
Within that camp, however, sharp divisions are developing. Senator John McCain of Arizona is calling for capping gas emissions linked to warming and higher fuel economy standards. Others, including Rudolph Giuliani and Mitt Romney, are refraining from advocating such limits and are instead emphasizing a push toward clean coal and other alternative energy sources.
All advocate expanding nuclear power generation which, as I've reported before, is a lot less clean once you consider how the nuclear fuel is produced. When you include mining and refining, nukes are 95% inefficient -- meaning that only 5% of the carbon output generated by getting the ore into a reactor actually accomplishes anything. The rest is just waste. "Clean" does not describe nuclear power.
Bush's position on climate change is only slightly more popular than a fart in an elevator. It doesn't represent his party. 80% of all voters agreed with the statement, "As the world's leading industrial country, the United States needs to set the lead when it comes to controlling greenhouse gases and pollution," and Harris' press release tells us, "The Republican nominee next fall, whoever he is, will need to avoid being identified with President Bush's skepticism on global warming and his resistance to taking strong steps -- domestically or internationally -- to deal with it. If he does not, some Republicans may be reluctant to vote for him."
Meanwhile, the right wing media is busy working the "global warming is junk science" angle -- putting them at odds with just about all of their listeners and viewers. Among Republicans, 67% believe global warming has a human cause and 71% believe it's happening right now. Yet dopes like Glenn Beck continue to lie about the issue.
BECK: We'll tell you the truth. We'll tell you the things that are politically incorrect. I'll go on and I'll tell you the [California wild fires] have very little to do with global warming, if anything. The globe was the hottest in 19 -- was it 1934, Stu [executive producer Steve "Stu" Burguiere], or '37? -- '34, 1934 was the hottest year. A stat, by the way, that was, I believe, intentionally distorted by the guy the left holds up as the scientist on global warming. America's temperature peaked in 1934. Since 1934, the hottest year on record was 1998. It has not gotten warmer since 1998. That's a fact.
Not surprisingly, that's not a fact, that's BS. The hottest year on record was 2005, not 1934. Maybe that's why even Republicans aren't believing this stuff anymore -- every time some climate change denier actually bothers to bring up a "fact," it turns out to be a lie. Of course, Glenn Beck's not the only example, he was just the first I found -- FOX News has a climate flat earther on the payroll (more on that here).
The right wing media's assertion that climate change is lefty propaganda isn't about offering a different perspective. Like creationists and evolution, GW skeptics don't actually offer any evidence of their own, they just attack the evidence the science is founded on. The idea isn't to offer a dissenting opinion, it's to create the appearance of controversy. "There is clearly a group of thought that says because we're not seeing debate now, it never happened in the scientific community," University of Arizona ecologist Travis Huxman says. "That is simply wrong. It did happen, and it's over. The debate now is over the idiosyncrasies, the internal workings."
In other words, the "debate" exists almost entirely within the media -- among scientists, the debate is over. And, as the Harris poll shows, it's pretty much over among voters. The coordinated PR push by right wing media and corporations has pretty much failed. Even the Republicans the campaign was aimed at aren't buying it. If they don't, few others will.
I've said before that I'm not much of a fan of mixing and matching polling data, but there's one question Harris didn't ask that I think is important. A Newsweek poll taken in August asked respondents, "In general, which political party do you trust more to handle the issue of global warming: the Republicans or the Democrats?"
Democrats scored 52%, while Republicans came away with 21%. It's clear, to me at least, that not only do Republicans need to "avoid being identified with President Bush's skepticism on global warming," as Harris suggests, but they also need to distance themselves from the flat earthers in their own media noise machine.
To their credit, most of the GOP candidates seem to be doing just that.
Technorati tags: politics; environment; elections; 2008; media; Glenn Beck; FOX News; A new poll shows Republicans need to take global warming seriously -- because their voters do